Jazz Orchestra records album with help of Impact program

WU Jazz Orchestra students warm up before their second day of recording at BRC Audio Productions. 

Jessica Knieff

The impact of dozens of donors landed Washburn University’s Jazz Orchestra students in professional recording studio, BRC Audio Productions, to create a performance-quality album.

The goal of $5,500 was achieved on the Washburn Foundation’s new crowd-sourcing web-based platform, Impact. This new program facilitates fundraising for various academic projects for Washburn students.

“This is a really cool way to promote some of these projects that are meaningful to the students’ experiences,” said Kathy Busch, the Foundation’s director of communications.

Busch said that the platform makes fundraising successful because donors can choose exactly what they are funding. With the jazz orchestra’s project, many musicians’ friends and families along with music alumni contributed to the cause.

Applications for the Impact program can be submitted through JuliAnn Mazachek, vice president for academic affairs, who will work with the interim president of the Foundation, Marshall Meek, to prioritize project requests in accordance with university goals. All projects must have a positive impact on Washburn students’ learning experiences.

A proposal submitted by Craig Treinen, director of jazz studies and assistant professor of music, turned into an unforgettable experience for the Washburn Jazz Orchestra students.

According to the Impact website, for these students, this is an invaluable learning experience to round out their jazz studies as they prepare to graduate and enter their chosen fields.

Paul Priddy is a senior music performance major who is the Washburn Jazz Orchestra’s piano player. He is planning to attend graduate school after Washburn to prepare for a career of piano performance.

“It gives us experience in something that some of us might be doing in the future,” Priddy said. “Learning the environment that I’m in and getting used to how everything sounds in the studio; that is what I am learning from this,”

Treinen said that for many students who are going into music education, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. He believes this experience will help them once they get into the classroom.

“A lot of times when you’re in the studio, it makes you rethink how you prepare and how you work and they can take some of those lessons into their teaching,” Treinen said.

Additionally, Treinen noted that this is a good historical asset for the university. The recording will act as an auditory archive for the jazz program.

“They’re going to have that recording to go back and reference the students from the past,” Treinen said. “They’ll be able to hear what the band sounded like and what the players were like at this time at Washburn.”

Creating an album in a recording studio is expensive and not typically written into the budget for college music programs. The Impact program allows donors to choose the difference that their gift makes.

The various suggested levels of donations all correlated with a concrete result. For example, a $90 donation could be made to cover the cost of one hour of studio time, or a $12 donation could be made to cover the pressing of two CDs.

The staff members at BRC Audio Productions spent nearly 20 hours recording with the Washburn Jazz Orchestra over the course of a weekend. Many more hours will be spent mixing and producing the album itself.

The students received real-time feedback from the producers in the studio and  did multiple takes of each piece to record it perfectly. The album is expected to be available for purchase in the fall of 2017.

“It’s something that they’ll have the rest of their lives,” Treinen said.